6-year-old suffers rare disease; Surgeons switch off half of her brain

Brianna Bodley

‘Rasmussen’s encephalitis is a progressive disease characterized by drug-resistant focal epilepsy, progressive hemiplegia, and cognitive decline, with unihemispheric brain atrophy. The disorder is rare and affects mostly children or young adults.’

A 6-year-old girl underwent an urgent surgery hemispherectomy in Los Angeles following her battle with Rassmussen’s encephalitis, the effects of which left half of her brain disconnected, according to People. Brianna Bodley was diagnosed with the rare disease in August 2022, and following her urgent surgery on 28th September, she is now undergoing recovery, according to a  GoFundMe page organized by her mother, Crystal Bodley.

Per The National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS), symptoms of the disease include ‘frequent and severe seizures, inflammation of the brain (otherwise known as encephalitis), mental deterioration and the progressive loss of neurological functions such as motor skills, speech and mobility on one side of the body.’ People reported, according to Bodley’s GoFundMe page information, that her diagnosis was ignited by her being hospitalized twice in one month, followed by seizures at night. The hemispherectomy disconnects the brain hemispheres from each other as “the only cure for the seizures caused by RE,” per her GoFundMe page.

Her mother Crystal wrote, “She was [in] pain due to her having non-stop seizures, which are shown in her leg that jerks all day long even when she’s sleeping,” continuing further, ” her leg would bend up all the time and she would have trouble walking.”

Dr. Richard Aaron Robison of Loma Linda University Health performed the 10-hour operation, telling ABC7, “Just disconnecting [the brain] is enough to stop the disease completely and essentially, potentially cure it,” continuing further,  “Brianna will still be the same person, even after disconnecting half her brain,” sending a bout of relief to her well-wishers and family.

As of October 3rd, Bodley is said to be on a steady recovery journey and is being thoroughly taken care of by medical staff. Crystal took to their GoFundMe page to update her daughter’s current condition, writing, ” Brianna’s medical team is focused on “pain management trying to help with her pain after surgery.” The 6-year-old will also start “intense rehab to learn how to walk and use her arm, speech therapy and more.” Accordingly, Brianna will be doing rehab until “she can walk and move her arm again,” but that she “will never get back her fine motor skills in her left hand and her peripheral view in her left eye.” Continuing further, “She has a very long road of recovery, but she is a strong and determined little girl. I know she will do great things and overcome all of this.”

Through massive support and proper rehabilitation, we may find Bodley up on her feet and living her normal life within a few months.